Canada

Alta. cabinet minister kicked out of caucus for leadership remarks

Alberta cabinet minister Lyle Oberg was suspended from the province's Progressive Conservative caucus on Thursday for comments he made about an upcoming leadership review of Premier Ralph Klein.

Cabinet minister Lyle Oberg was suspended from Alberta's Progressive Conservative caucus on Thursday for comments he made about an upcoming leadership review of Premier Ralph Klein.

Deputy Premier Shirley McClellan made the announcement after an emergency meeting at the legislature in Edmonton.

McClellan said Oberg, minister of infrastructure and transportation, had been kicked out of caucus and suspended indefinitely from cabinet.

Klein did not attend the meeting.

Oberg, who is a leadership contender, sparked a controversy by telling some of his constituents he wouldn't ask his members to support Klein during a review on March 31 in Calgary.

Oberg also took issue with Klein's order that any cabinet ministers wishing to succeed him must quit their posts by June 1 to prevent any conflict of interest.

Oberg called the idea "a bombshell" that could backfire.

"If I were the premier, I wouldn't want me as a backbencher," Oberg told the meeting.

"I know where the skeletons are."

Oberg has not yet responded to news of his suspension.

Klein has been under pressure to pick an actual date for his departure. Earlier this month, he said he'd leave in October 2007, but he has since moved that date into 2008.

On Tuesday, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Ed Stelmach resigned from cabinet. While he didn't say when his campaign will get underway, he said he wanted to avoid any semblance of impropriety.

Advanced Education Minister David Hancock is also considering entering the leadership race.

Interest has also come from outside of cabinet, including former treasurer Jim Dinning, defeated cabinet minister Mark Norris, and rookie government member Ted Morton.